Can I honestly claim that the only teams that did well in 2013 were the ones not bit by the injury bug? Is it true that while the rest of us limped along rummaging weekly through the free agent garbage dumpster, the lucky ones cruised along happily?
I think that there is a bit of truth to it. Player injures affect team performance, duh. Nevertheless, I believe that in the time of injuries some draft strategies may need to be reviewed and modified or, possibly, even abandoned.
In my FantasyPros911 AL-only league, I relied on the by now famous “stars and scrubs” method. The budget was spent on a few key players. My team did well for I would say, two weeks. When a good number of my stars ended on the DL, my team sunk in the standings.
Given the scarcity of players in a non-mixed league, there were not enough available free agents to cover the holes in my lineup. On top of that, the league allows only five bench spots, too few to keep my many players on the DL. I was faced with the dilemma of either dropping one of my superstars or having an incomplete active roster. That was not a happy situation.
“Stars and scrubs” is gone from my playbook.
Another strategy needing refinement is the concept of having one top pitcher who “anchors” a pitching staff. In one of my leagues, I paid good money for Justin Verlander. He did not get hurt but he also did not perform as a pitcher worth $31 (out of a total of $260). His performance is beside the point. In this era of injuries, is it really smart to spend that much on a single player?
Picking a pitcher to “anchor” a pitching staff is not too different from the “stars and scrubs” strategy. Both ideas call for spending a lot on a single player. Time has come to modify my spending habits.
Next year, I will return to the idea of a balanced team. My goal will be to avoid paying more than $20 for a player. Losing a $20 player hurts less than losing a $45 one, right? To win, players must produce above the value they had at draft time. A $45 player can give you very little additional value.
If you look into the stats of the teams that reached the postseason, it seems that we have entered a moneyball “phase 2” era. In the AL, Boston has the most wins followed by the Oakland A’s. Boston’s top winner is Jon Lester (43rd rated hurler at the beginning of the season) while for the A’s it's Bartolo Colon (193rd rated) In the NL, the Cardinals, the top team in the win category, has a star in Adam Wainwright (9th). The second best team is the Atlanta Braves, whose top winner is Kris Medlen (24th). The Pittsburgh Pirates follow with Francisco Liriano (237th).
Granted, there is a difference between real and fantasy baseball. Nevertheless, the lack of star power on some of the teams that reached the playoffs tells me that having a well-balanced team may be the way to go next year in this era of injuries.
Do check out Sports in Antiquity, Pasko's site that looks at sports and competition through history.